Elisabeth and Dale play WAYK using technique “Pairing”.

1 hour, 15 minutes, and 51 seconds.

[direct download]

1. Technique “Agile

  • Why did we offer a WAYK workshop for IT professionals who belong to the Agile software development community?
  • WAYK teaches “teacher-trainers”.
  • WAYK is a pattern language; a mentoring language that (in an open source, ever-improving fashion) codifies the successful strategies involved in teaching and learning.

2. Technique “Chartering

  • Our highest value: the most rapid emergence of fluent proficiency in any skill, in any community.

3. Technique “Goal Conversation

  • We wanted to apply WAYK to something that might appear as a work practice in a dialect of Agile software development.
  • We also wanted to train our “language hunters“, while we still had them in the workshop, to use their skills without hesitating.

4. Technique “Language Hunting

  • You need to learn to “language hunt” fluently before you can start applying the WAYK mentoring language to other skill domains (such as Agile).
  • Evan thinks it takes a minimum of 1 to 1½ days, in an WAYK immersion workshop, for fluent “language hunters” to emerge.

5. Technique “Critical Mass

  • With 10 attendees at the workshop (we only had five), we could have vastly accelerated the workshop.
  • The more people, the more dynamic the process of shifting “inner circle” and “lunatic fringe” by calling “Full“, and so on.

6. Technique “You go first

  • We “set-up” a pretend “language hunting” scenario for three spoken languages; Japanese, Chinuk Wawa, Norwegian.
  • Anders, our Norwegian attendee, set a record for the fastest Chinuk Wawa hunt ever!

7. Technique “Teach a Teacher

  • We overheard some newbies say to another: “We’re going to teach you Norwegian now!”

8. Technique “Tea with Grandma

  • To prep for hunting spoken language, we “set-up” an archetypal “language hunting” scenario, with Evan pretending to be Deaf, ASL-fluent Grandma.

9. Technique “Shared Experience

  • Willem gives clues – “Grandma loves tea – and she doesn’t like coffee.”

10. Technique “Limit

  • Limiting the objects to the “tea” theme.

11. Technique “Obviously!

  • The need for a less-confusing tea mug.
  • The hunt for a perfectly white mug.
  • It’s all in the planning.

12. Technique “Set-up

  • Arranging the “hunting pack” around Grandma, without scaring her…
  • Establishing a “limited” array of objects; one color, few materials.
  • Grandma was nervous – the “angels” and “lunatic fringe” were arrayed about her in an intimidating fashion.

13. Technique “What’s that?

  • Anders kicks the conversation into gear, by asking the first question you ever want to ask in “language hunting“.

14. Technique “Full

  • Some of the hunters called “full” in front of Grandma, confusing her a bit. Also the rotation of “fringe” to “inner circle“, though perfect form during a WAYK game, during tea with Grandma tended to bewilder her.

15. Technique “Craig’s List“.

  • They start building “craig’s lists” on their own.

16. Technique “Hunting Pack

  • It takes a lot of teamwork to trust that while others are hunting, you can be building “craig’s lists” in the background, and running a WAYK game to solidify your fluent proficiency.

17. Technique “Make me say No…

  • Dale triggers a correction response, by asking “is that a black spoon”? This gets Evan to say “No, that is a white spoon”, revealing the word for “white”.

18. Technique “Make me say Yes…

  • Dale then “sets-up” another round, to reveal the names of materials; paper, plastic, ceramic.
  • “White” and “like” are very similar hand-signs; Dale thoroughly investigates whether he understood Evan correctly.

19. Technique “Set-up

  • Dale even pulls the word for “clear” out of Evan!
  • Anders perfectly “sets-up” the question “where’s my bread?”, by “accidentally” dropping it under his chair.
  • Michael “sets-up” a conversation about sweeteners to put in tea.
  • Michael discovers the word “fake” – a very abstract concept! How did he get it in a conversation about “tea”?

20. Technique “Craig’s List

  • Michael decides to extend the colors “craig’s list” by hunting for “yellow”.

21. Technique “Hunting Pack

  • Evan and Willem wish they could take the “language hunters” they trained at this workshop with them on language revitalization programs. They’re really good. Sigh.
  • The  team then pretends to be on a plane-ride home from Grandma.

22. Technique “Organizing Principle

  • The team starts troubleshooting organizing the “craig’s lists“, using different themes.

23. Technique “Novice Listing

  • They needed to move on from just listing though…even if it was highly-skilled “craig’s listing“. Listing is a Novice behavior!
  • They bumped it up to  “Intermediate proficiency” by throwing the “craig’s lists” into a “want/have/give/take” conversation.
  • Evan wishes he could have debriefed “Tea with Grandma” – important insights would have emerged, but we just didn’t have enough time.

24. Technique “the Walk

  • Critical group fluency emerged during the second morning’s “Walk“.
  • Michael told a story about hang-gliding off the balcony. Whew!

25. Technique “Speed Dating

  • By applying techniques “Set-up“, “You go first“, and “Modeling”, we were determined to inspire “language hunting” after the workshop.
  • This looked a lot like “speed dating” – a few paired “language hunting” games.
  • We began by pretending Willem was a Russian-speaker wearing a “I Heart Speaking Russian” standing at the bank, with Evan next to him in line.

26. Technique “How do you say…?

  • If you have a common bridge language (such as English) in the beginning, don’t be afraid to use it for a little while.
  • Evan’s first question to Willem’s Russian-speaker: “How do you say “What is that?” in Russian?”.
  • His next question (while pointing at a red pen) “Well then, [in Russian] what is that?”.

27. Technique “Bridge Language

  • Elizabeth asks Evan (while paired with him, hunting his Chinuk Wawa), “Do you speak ASL?”. Evan can’t help but say “yes!”. Very cunning…

28. Technique “Agile

  • We applied it then to a practice that might be done by an Agile software developer (in this case, Michael).
  • It would be very easy to talk theoretically about how one might apply it…but we were determined to use techniques “do something“, “modeling“, and “you go first“.
  • We set a 15 minute time-box in which we needed to decided upon a “same conversation” to start with. And then: action!

29. Technique “Imagine You’re in a Cafe in Spain – a decelerator

  • Don’t pretend to be where you want to be – go there! “Set-up” the real conversation (or as close to real as possible).
  • Fortunately, our host Elisabeth designed Agilistry studio (our workshop space) to accurately simulate an Agile environment.

Written by Evan Gardner


Jay Bazuzi

Another great podcast that makes me better at WAYK.

I still don’t get how to use WAYK for a non-language skill. It’s like you ran out of gas there. Oh, you did… 🙂

I also still feel a little uncertain about how to go beyond Want/Have/Give/Take with a language. I mention that because in both cases I haven’t actually done it. Again, actually doing WAYK is required to understand WAYK.

All in good time, I’m sure.


Yeah, we almost did run out of gas!

You’ll kick yourself when we show you how to extend the game past want/have/give/take, and apply it to other skills. It’s like hearing the answer to a riddle; it’s only obvious after you hear it.

We do need to get a workshop on over there for you, in Port Townshend or Seattle, at some point. Hrm! If you fill it, we will come!



I totally believe you, Willem. When I saw the first WAYK video, I was stunned. It was so simple. The emperor has no clothes, because the climate is mild. (Actually his outfit was carefully prepared to make him look naked.)

Then I tried to explain WAYK, but couldn’t get the message across, and decided that you have to play to get it.

I taught bicycle repair on Saturday (really) and was thinking about how to apply WAYK. The only thing I picked up on was my urge to explain lots of details that would have Sorry Charlie’d my student.

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